Let’s get real, people: all those “dress professionally for your home office” posts are missing the point. I’ve been working remotely for the past five years and haven’t been near a dry cleaner since I left my corporate job. If I wanted to wear pants to work, I wouldn’t have started a company.
Here are some tips to help you embrace the work-from-home lifestyle as it should be lived:
- Work wherever you are comfortable. If lying in bed with a laptop balanced on your stomach makes you happy, please go for it. I have a home office, but you’ll find me on the couch as often as you will at my desk. In my professional opinion, some emails should only be sent while prone.
- Wear anything you wish. Right now, I am resplendently attired in fluffy socks, striped pajama bottoms, and an “Electable” t-shirt. Does this affect the quality of my work? Only in that I don’t spend a single minute thinking about how how much my feet hurt. I’m focused on my writing, not my wardrobe. It’s a nice change.
- Gussy up for meetings, but don’t go crazy. A friend of mine drapes a colorful scarf over her t-shirt before firing up the Zoom app. I go for clunky statement necklaces. Brush your hair and make sure the room behind you doesn’t look like that hotel suite in The Hangover. Done.
- Enjoy your co-workers. Productivity coaches recommend taking regular breaks to decompress and spark creativity. Instead of walking around the block or joining the line at Starbucks, use the time to annoy your cat (I keep a laser pointer handy) or take the dog for a jog.
- Understand that sh#@t happens. Doorbells ring, your spouse asks you to pick up dinner (or order it from Door Dash in these troubled times), your toddler spills juice on the router. All of these interruptions are less distracting than having your boss appear at your office door at 5:30 p.m., as you are shoving your heels in the desk drawer, with major changes to a report due first thing tomorrow.
Yes, working at home can be isolating (although not if everyone’s doing it), and yes, it takes discipline to be productive. But it’s also easier, more fun, and for many of us, more humane than commuting to an office — if you let yourself enjoy it.
Deb Gaines is the president of Deborah Gaines Associates, a communications consultancy serving law firms and universities.